Softball splits double-header against Monmouth despite injury
Normally, a Washington University softball senior’s college career ends with the final out in May, but senior Ally Berenter’s career end came in April.
Berenter was hit in the face by a ball while doing defensive drills during practice last Wednesday. The fluke injury required her to fly home for surgery over the weekend.
“As a teammate, the hardest part about her injury is having to watch someone you love have to give up something that has meant so much to them for so long,” senior Claire Voris said.
After Friday’s double-header against Fontbonne University was postponed because of rain, the Bears split Saturday’s double-header against Monmouth College in their first games since Voris’ injury and after a 10-day break from games.
“It was really hard to come off of that because Ally is such a critical part of the team,” freshman Maggie Mullen said. “We all knew she wanted us to play our best.”
The Red and Green, backed by a season-high 14 strikeouts from Voris, took the first game 1-0. Sophomore Ashley Janssen hit a single, stole second and then advanced on a groundout by junior Alyssa Abramoski. Janssen then scored off a groundout by Voris in the top of the sixth. Voris shut the door on the Scots, retiring the side in the sixth and seventh innings.
The Monmouth Fighting Scots came back in the nightcap, taking advantage early off two unearned runs in the first inning. The Bears’ bats struggled, producing only three hits in six innings.
“We had some really good hard hits that they just fielded really, really well,” sophomore Hilary Stepansky said.
The last inning was a different story, as the Bears erupted for five hits. Mullen started off with a single followed by sophomore Alex Fjeldheim. An RBI double to left field from freshman Kelsey Neal scored Mullen, but a good relay throw beat pinch-runner Stepansky to home plate. Sophomore Sondra Polonsky’s single helped Neal score before the rally was stopped on a strikeout. The two-run rally was not enough, and junior Olivia Cook was saddled with the loss despite giving up one earned run.
“Luckily our team has so many skilled players that we will be able to recover from losing Ally,” Ferguson said. “This past weekend Alex Fjeldheim had many great plays at first, including a diving catch.”
Senior Day continued despite the incident and the rain that washed out Friday’s double-header. The celebration occurred in the Hall of Champions with game-day introductions, supportive family members, and gifts. The team gave its graduating seniors shadow boxes filled with memorabilia and showed a video message.
“We just wanted to show our appreciation for them as seniors for everything they do for the team,” Stepansky said.
Seniors Berenter, Voris and Antonia Ferguson left their impact on the program with three NCAA tournament appearances and three UAA Championships.
“They are all such unique personalities on the team that I don’t think there’s going to be anyone like them in the future,” Mullen said.
Each of the seniors was a captain this season. Berenter finished with 15 career home runs, tied for fifth in school history. Voris is currently 23rd in NCAA Division III history with 775 strikeouts. “I am very proud to have had the honor and privilege of coaching them,” head coach Leticia Pineda-Boutté said
The greatest impact for the seniors was not the softball but rather the relationships they formed.
“Most of the play-by-plays become a blur, but it’s girls I’ve played with that I’ll never forget,” Berenter said.
The team said that even the 6 a.m. practices five days a week during the preseason were bearable.
“The team is so fun you forget you only got 3 hours of sleep,” Ferguson said. “I’m going to miss [the underclassmen] so much; it will be strange not to see them every day.”
The No. 22 Bears will host Fontbonne on Friday before travelling to No. 20 DePauw College on Saturday.
“The Bears plan on finishing strong,” Voris said. “Though Ally won’t be able to be on the field, there is no doubt she will be with us all the way.”